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Empathy in Your Job Search

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Empathy. That’s what I’m going to talk about today. Empathy and how it relates to your job search.

You hear about empathy a lot. Especially in a business context. But how does it relate to someone looking for a job? Shouldn’t the interviewer and hiring manager show empathy toward me? Not the other way around.

When you start to view the world through someone else’s eyes and worldview possibilities open up around how to connect. Not just that, but it also helps you understand why you may not have gotten a second interview or an offer.

What Hiring Managers are Really Concerned About

The one thing on everyone’s mind- even yours - is risk.

The company takes a risk every time they hire someone. Hiring someone is expensive. There are ‘startup’ costs associated with equipment, training, benefits, and potential signing bonuses. There’s also opportunity cost. They could be missing out on new business or it may take a new hire twice the time to do things as someone who had been in the role longer.

If you leave after six months, the company is stuck with those costs and they’re now amplified when they hire your replacement.

From a hiring manager’s perspective, a bad hire could hurt their performance, damage their reputation and status within the organization, and, in some instances, cost them their job.

A bad hire could negatively impact a good team dynamic.

A bad hire could prevent the team from meeting project objectives and cause them to ship late and over budget.

Opportunity Costs

Hiring also takes time. A lot of time. Which is another cost - especially opportunity cost.

Some people tend to get hung up on the idea that, even though they’ve never done a particular part of a role and it’s not listed on their resume that they “could do it”.

They probably could. But to a hiring manager, it’s a risk they may not be willing to take. Especially, if they’re interviewing another candidate who has that experience.

It doesn’t mean that not having a certain type of experience is a deal-breaker. Some organizations and hiring managers value a strong desire to learn and level up, as well as confidence. But it most likely will come down to who is the less risky candidate.

Understanding this perspective offers you an opportunity to be honest with yourself. What will you be able to do on Day 1 in the new role? What would you need to learn? How would you learn it?

It also provides an opportunity to know what they may ask you about ahead of time so you can be prepared.

Reading Between the Lines

With this in mind, you can now read the job description and try to pick up on any queues that may be offered about how they view risk or what’s important to them.

Even the boilerplate company BS usually taking up space at the beginning of a job description can offer a glimpse into the overall mentality of the business or team.

Read the job description from the viewpoint of the person writing it, not from your viewpoint of checking boxes and 'what I could do but have never done."

Doing this will help you tailor your resume to better align with the role and organization and will give you the necessary insight to help you prepare for an interview.

Interested in learning more about the coaching services I provide? Check out Mauka Career Marketing or email me at

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash